SENATE President Franklin Drilon has called on the Supreme Court (SC) to promptly rule on the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health (RH) law, noting that delay on the implementation of the law has prevented the government from providing much-needed maternal and infant care throughout the nation.
Drilon said the judgment of the SC, regardless of whatever it would be, is crucial because it would allow the government to decide on the measures to take to promote reproductive health.
“Whatever the verdict of the Supreme Court, only then will be the government freed to either continue with the RH law, or proceed to formulate another national policy on this issue,” Drilon explained.
The Senate president said the high court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the law is vital in allowing the state to act on maternal deaths and other health complications affecting women in the country.
He said that despite the passage of the law more than a year ago the government’s hands are still tied in terms of providing adequate maternal care for millions of mothers, especially those living in far-flung areas who have scarce access to health services.
The controversial law was signed into law in December 2012, supposedly allowing the government to allot billions of pesos annually for the procurement of contraceptives.
“Pro-life” advocates then filed several petitions before the SC asking the high tribunal to declare the law unconstitutional on the premise that the law violates Article II, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that the state should uphold the sanctity of the family and protect the lives of both mothers and the unborn.
Senate deputy minority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd, also disclosed that despite the unresolved legality issues of the RH law, the government increased its allocation for RH-related items by 12 percent or from P2.5 billion in 2013 to P2.8 billion this year.
The increase includes P825.8 million for family planning commodities and supplies; P238.7 for family planning rural health workshops; P993.3 for community health teams mobilization; and P304 million for health-related activities in emergency hospitals.
Sotto noted that despite the non-implementation of the RH law, the government has allocated an additional P625 million for the procurement of family planning supplies. He added that P500 million of the amount would be used for the procurement of oral contraceptives.
Drilon, however, maintained that the RH bill underwent more than thirteen years of debates, studies and consultations before it was approved. This means that the said law’s passage went through an arduous and highly publicized process, according to the lawmaker.
“The implementation of the RH law has been hanged in a state of limbo pending a court decision, leaving the government temporarily incapacitated on its legitimate goal of removing the stumbling blocks to providing maximum maternal and infant care throughout the country,” Drilon explained.